A former Rock Island County highway department worker is coming forward about what he says has been years of “lax” monitoring of taxpayer-owned fuel and property, in light of the recent indictment of the number three man on the department.
“We weren’t keeping track of anything. No”, he said in an interview with WQAD. The man, who asked not to be identified, worked for the highway department for more than ten years.
“You would see things turn up missing, it’s a small department,” he said. “This didn’t start in the last 12 to 15 months, it’s been going on for years. That’s why I retired, I was tired of seeing what was going on”, he said.
“A lot of the politics and way things were done at the highway department, I would say were questionable to say the least”, he said.
A fuel-tracking system installed in the late 1990’s to keep tabs on the county gas pump, he says, wasn’t even used.
“The system was shut down for whatever reason, I don’t know. Maybe it was broken, but for probably, ten years, fuel was not recorded. Fuel going out was not recorded, what went into what vehicle, where it went” he said.
“There was almost a ten year period where fuel was not kept track of”, he said.
Highway department head Fred Neece says it’s true the fuel tracking system wasn’t used, because “it never really worked right”, and says bids to replace the system were received but never acted upon.
He says there were some years when a paper log was used to monitor mileage and gas usage for the county’s 14 vehicles. Neece says he looks at a print-out sheet of “how much gas is used for the day”, but it doesn’t pinpoint who used what.
Neece says only three people were able to access the county fuel tanks after-hours, himself, the county engineer, and foreman Jim Geiger.
Another former highway worker told WQAD in August that he witnessed Geiger filling up gas cans at the county fuel pump and putting them in his truck.
“I told my man, what’s he filling up all these gas cans for? Cause everything we have in the county is all diesel. You can’t use regular gas in those engines”, he said. “After that, I was terminated and I never got my job back. All I was doing was looking out for some of the taxpayers money and wondering where the hell it was going”, he said.
Geiger has plead not guilty and faces two felony counts of theft and misconduct.
The former worker says he personally told two county board members about concerns with the department, but no changes were made.
He also says county property, like guard rail and scrap metal was given away to certain workers and their friends.